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READER LETTER: ‘Our town’s youngest residents will suffer from Sure Start closure

PUBLISHED: 08:15 10 March 2019 | UPDATED: 08:16 10 March 2019

The Corpusty and Holt Area Sure Start Centre in Holt, one of many which are facing closure by the county council. 

Photo by Mark Bullimore

The Corpusty and Holt Area Sure Start Centre in Holt, one of many which are facing closure by the county council. Photo by Mark Bullimore

Archant Norfolk 2015

You may well hear people who even live here saying that they have never seen any child living below the poverty line.

Holt mayor Maggie Prior. Picture: Archant LibraryHolt mayor Maggie Prior. Picture: Archant Library

Unfortunately, this is far from true.

Times have changed since poverty was openly obvious and recognized from a Dickensian description.

There is in Holt, one of the highest number of children in Norfolk living in poverty or below the ‘breadline’. Once again, this fact about Holt has been dismissed in a very poor decision to deprive Holt’s young families by closing their Sure Start centre.

This is the latest in a long line of negative decisions about Holt made centred on the so-called ‘fact’ that Holt’s needs are not as great as others in north Norfolk.

This is false; especially for local people who are often from generations born and raised in Holt or its environs, forming part of our heritage as what was a lovely market town in a rural community.

It is not just what was done but the way in which it was done that is completely unacceptable.

Holt’s young parents, just as the rest of us, were given a false sense of security when told in September that Holt Sure Start was not to be closed, as was to be the fate of 46 of 53 children’s centres.

The 46 to be closed were to be moved ‘into the community’, the description of which left many people with huge reservations about its suitability.

Libraries and rooms in houses certainly do not fill me with any faith in this system.

Having this information for months, I think it is perfectly normal behaviour that there weren’t lots of strong objections from the public regarding our position during the public consultation.

However, knowing that this consultation was to provide vital input at their committee, it was sent into the public domain stating the proposals they had already made, which it could very well be claimed skewed the responses.

Why did they not just put out their plans for change without given any ‘proposed towns’? Apparently, the late changes all came about due to consultation.

Then came the incredible decision that Holt had not just been dropped from the top seven places, but it had now been placed below 15 other centres which had originally been chosen for closure.

So, under the original proposals, which were openly published, Holt’s children’s centre would have been retained. However, in January 2019, updated plans were to see 15 children’s centres kept and 38 closed.

I cannot find any fair or logical reasons, why or how Holt’s position could be shifted so dramatically in these discussions or what professional advice could have been given that could justify this huge change in position. I have asked to discuss Holt’s situation, but I still await a response.

We have a purpose made building, in the right place for our young families and which gives the others we cater for parking facilities or direct public transport routes. Most of all it is used, appreciated and does a good job.

Why would anyone want to spend 1p on changing the venue for this facility, especially for what is proposed, in my opinion something, causing upheaval, far less likely to succeed and far less appropriate.

MAGGIE PRIOR

Councillor and mayor of Holt, chair of Holt Town Council

-What do you think? To share your views on this issue and others, email nnn.letters@archant.co.uk

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